Discover it Cash Back Review

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Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

Rewards rate:

Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

  • Intro bonus: Cashback Match™
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 11.99% – 22.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit score: 670-850 (Good to Excellent)

The Discover it Cash Back stands out — and earns a spot among our best cash back credit card picks — due to its generous revolving rewards structure, which gives cardholders the chance to earn 5% cash back upon activation (up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, then 1%) in categories that change throughout the year. There’s no annual fee, and you can save money on interest with an introductory APR for a limited time.

At a Glance

  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in rotating quarterly categories upon activation (then 1% back) 
  • Earn 1% back on all other purchases
  • Discover will match all the cash back earned within the first year
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months, followed by a variable APR of 11.99% to 22.99%

Pros

  • 5% back in popular categories like grocery stores, gas stations, or Amazon.com purchases throughout the year

  • No annual fee and no late fee on your first late payment

  • Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers

  • Cashback Match at the end of your first 12 months

Cons

  • 5% cash back limited to just $1,500 in spending per quarter

  • High ongoing variable APR

  • Limited redemption options for rewards

  • Must keep track of rotating bonus categories

Additional Card Details

The Discover it Cash Back offers a generous rewards program with no annual fee, but you may need to look elsewhere if you want a card with a lot of perks. This card only offers a handful of cardholder benefits which include a free FICO score on your monthly statement, Social Security number alerts, and overnight shipping to replace a lost card.

Since the Discover it Cash Back doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees, it can be a good option if you need a credit card to use outside the United States. Just keep in mind that Discover is not accepted as broadly worldwide as Visa or Mastercard, so you should check the Discover credit card acceptance map before you make plans.

Should You Get this Card?

The Discover it Cash Back could be ideal if you want to rack up rewards without an annual fee, and don’t mind putting a bit of work into tracking and activating quarterly categories. It can be especially valuable if you spend a lot in Discover’s bonus categories throughout the year, meaning you’re likely to max out the $1,500 spending cap on the 5% back category every three months (1% cash back thereafter). 

No annual fee means you can keep this card for the long haul without paying, and the initial 0% intro APR offer can even help you stretch out the repayment of any purchases you make for the first 14 months (11.99% – 22.99% variable APR thereafter). If you have high interest debt to consolidate, the 0% intro APR rate also applies to balance transfers for 14 months after the date of your first transfer (11.99% – 22.99% variable APR thereafter). Just remember that a 3% balance transfer fee applies for transfers posted to your account by June 10, 2021, after which the balance transfer fee goes up to 5% of your balance.

Pro Tip

If you’re hoping to maximize rewards, the Discover it Cash Back can help you earn more in quarterly bonus categories. Just remember to pay your balance before interest accrues, or your rewards won’t be worth it.

How to Use Discover it Cash Back

To make the most of the Discover it Cash Back, you’ll want to stay on top of the quarterly bonus categories this card offers. Fortunately, Discover announces its cash back calendar for the entire year in advance, so you’ll have plenty of time to plan ahead.  The following table shows the 5% bonus categories for 2021:

Discover it Cash Back Bonus Categories

2021 Schedule2021 Bonus Categories
Q1: January – MarchGrocery stores, Walgreens, and CVS
Q2: April – JuneGas stations, Wholesale Clubs, and select streaming services
Q3: July – SeptemberRestaurants and Paypal
Q4: October – DecemberAmazon.com, Walmart.com, and Target.com

To earn 5% back in quarterly bonus categories, you’ll need to activate your bonus rewards each quarter. If you don’t activate categories until later in the quarter, bonus rewards will not apply retroactively to any eligible category purchases made earlier. You can activate by logging into your credit card’s online account management page, mobile app, or by heading to Discover’s website. 

Once you activate quarterly bonus categories, use this card for all spending in those categories, at least until you reach the $1,500 quarterly cap. Maxing out this cap will earn $75 in 5% bonus rewards every quarter, or up to $300 in bonus rewards per year. If you have another rewards card with higher earn on your everyday spending, you may get more value using that after maxing out bonus categories, rather than the 1% back on non-bonus purchases with Discover it Cash Back. 

It can be especially useful to complete all your regular spending with this card the first year, as Discover matches all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. This means they’ll double $300 in cash back to $600 in cash back, or $400 in cash back to $800, and so on. 

This card doesn’t offer the longest 0% intro period, but you can also use it to finance some larger purchases and pay them off interest-free for more than a year. Just make sure to pay off your balance completely before the introductory period ends. Once 14 months are up, interest jumps from 0% to a variable 11.99%-22.99%, depending on your creditworthiness.

Discover it Cash Back Compared to Other Cards

Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

  • Intro bonus:
    Cashback Match™
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    11.99% – 22.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠

  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    14.99 – 23.74% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

  • Intro bonus:
    $200
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    13.99% – 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Recommended credit:
    670-850 (Good to Excellent)
  • Learn more externa link icon at our partner’s secure site

Bottom Line

EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE

As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.

With high-earning 5% rewards on rotating everyday spending categories upon activation, plus Discover’s Cashback Match program your first year, this card is a good option for anyone who wants to rack up cash back. Just make sure to keep track of rotating categories and be mindful of the $1,500 quarterly bonus spending cap (1% cash back thereafter) to fully maximize this card’s rewards.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Discover it Cash Back a good card?

The Discover it Cash Back is an excellent option for consumers who want to earn rewards across categories without paying an annual fee. However, there are multiple types of cash back credit cards and rewards credit cards, so make sure to compare options that may work best for your spending before you decide.

What is the cash back on Discover it?

Discover it Cash Back earns 5% back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly bonus categories upon activation (then 1%), as well as 1% back on all other purchases. Discover also matches all the cash back you have earned at the end of your first year.

How can you redeem Discover it Cash Back rewards?

Once you rack up cash rewards with the Discover Cash Back, you have the option to redeem them for a deposit into your bank account, a statement credit to your account, purchases made through Amazon.com or PayPal.com, or charitable contributions.

*All information about the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card has been collected independently by NextAdvisor and has not been reviewed by the issuer.